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Ask HN: Help with Meta
142 points by rqmedes on Dec 16, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments
This is a long shot, but I am a desperate dad reaching out to my developer network, and I thought I would also try here.

Unfortunately, my daughter inherited my autism, which made growing up difficult. She had no friends and was bullied so severely that after multiple schools, we were forced to home-school for most of her teenage years, then through the COVID lockdowns.

Social media became an essential part of her life, mainly Instagram. She worked hard on it for hours every day. She started modelling free collaborative work with photographers. She took the hard path; no bikinis, lingerie or sexualised content. She did this for years and eventually got enough followers to get regular paid modelling work, and at 19, this is now her job, along with singing which we started to help with her confidence.

We are unsure how it happened, but after four years, her account has been banned for impersonation. The only thing we can think of was a week ago, she ran into some of the girls who bullied her years ago, and they probably reported her out of spite.

There were no warnings, and the remediation process was a form that came back rejected with no ability to try again, even though she has a business registered for the account, driver's license and other identification. We have tried everything else, and now she cannot even create a new account, as it is getting banned for spam if she tries contacting her old network. This is not only her job but her life, her network, and her friends; it's all gone.

I know these are first-world problems, and it's probably stupid to reach out to HN, but it broke my heart to witness the decade of pain she has gone through, every birthday party, not a single friend. Now watching her go through this, inconsolable, I am worried she will do something stupid to hurt herself,I am asking for any help.

I am looking for any contacts at Meta to see if there is any back channel to try and get her account reinstated or advice on how to move forward.

To the Hacker News Community, Thankyou!

The issues has been resolved!

I have lurked on this site since 2008 and have not really posted as I always struggle with the communication side of things and the rules of interaction. With software, technology and the world in general, it's hard not to get cynical as you get older. However you are willing to go out of your way to help a stranger on the internet and you have restored my energy and faith. This has meant so much for my family.

LXE, thank you so much!

I think someone else has beat me to it! :) It's the right call to reach out on these forums. Behind all this bureaucracy is people who are just as flabbergasted by the system.

can you share how it was resolved and what trigger the ban in the first place?

We have no idea what triggered it, she just logged in, and it was removed for impersonation. My daughter challenged this through a form Instagram provided. It came back saying that the request was denied and the account was gone, and you couldn't try again. Every other request or attempt came back with the same message, where you could not even submit as it blocked the submit form.

To resolve this, I reached out to everyone I knew in tech, I have worked in the industry for over 20 years and know lots of people in lots of companies globally. I also posted here on HN in this post, and several people looked into it for me.

This was really weird for me; I never usually ask for help, for anything. It's not something men in my generation do, even though I help others every chance I get.

Its actually been a valuable life lesson for me, swallowing my pride and risking coming across vulnerable was a little scary, but asking for help was worth it.

Looking back if I did this earlier in my life and career, things would of probably been a lot easier.

Saying "it's not something men in my generation do" might be offensive to some people especially at these left-leaning woke tech companies. I know you're autistic so just thought I'd drop some advice.

How is that offensive? We were just brought up not to ask for help,

Just FYI, in modern pop culture, anyone using the word ‘woke’ to describe something almost always a bigot.

Not true. I know many people, including me, that use the word woke and aren't bigots.

After the QAnon crowd started the whole “I’m awake, not woke” thing, I think it became pretty clear that the intent of the word is only used to incite hatred under the guise of poking fun at something ala trump’s penchant for nicknames.

I certainly use it as a cue to stop listening to someone.

Its frustrating that groups can appropriate words, slogans or sayings and then they can never be used again as they are attached to that context forever :( . Just having to keep up with it all is very tiring.

I'm not too familiar with "QAnon" and neither are most people I know. We all know what woke is though and use it regularly.

basic tech support how heart warming

If I can respectfully add something to this post - I'm not sure how much this might help, but to those who were kind enough to offer to help, I would with great respect ask you to consider adding any internal influence you might have towards trying to make this sort of one-on-one, based-on-who-you-can-connect-with action unnecessary.

There is obviously something severely broken here. Aside from any ethical/moral issue, I imagine Mr. Zuckerberg might be surprised about how becoming the one of the first Big Tech firms to "fix" their response might prove of great pragmatic benefit.

I'm fully aware the product is us, but for us to be a worthwhile product, we have to choose the site, something that is no longer as much of a reliable default for Meta.

Just my $0.02 as a Jo Schmoe in the Midwest.

Depending on how much is at stake here there is a site called swapd.co where a bunch of people advertise Instagram "unbanning services." Basically they bribe Facebook support employees to get your account back. Typically they run for a few hundred dollars. I think the site has a built in escrow system too so as long as you pay on site you should be protected.

I hope this goes viral so you don't have to do that but it's an option. Good luck.

This is not meant as a criticism of you by any means for providing the URL - you are providing an answer to a question by advising of an existing service - but the fact that this methodology has to exist in order for this option to be available to anyone is sick, and it also seems a de-motivator for any non-bribery-related legitimate path to ever be put in place.

Yeah I've commented on this [before](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33040446). The other thing is that a lot of the people unbanned by these kinds of services really did deserve to be banned. Until people inside these companies start expressing skepticism about what the abuse/"risk" departments do and how they handle false positives nothing will change so I just see it as a necessary evil but fortunately it seems some Facebook employees in this thread offered to help.

Also, here are some examples (I have not used these services specifically but I have had positive interactions with this site overall). For reference most of the scams occur in the currency exchange section because there is no escrow there unlike the other sections.

https://swapd.co/t/fast-cheap-instagram-unbans/591835/75 https://swapd.co/t/instagram-unban-service-cheap-fast-100-su... https://swapd.co/t/instagram-unban-service-any-violation-no-...

Just make sure if you go this route to do any trades over the checkout ticket system on the site so that no one can cheat you.

Shoot me an email. Contact in bio.

Thank you for being a helpful human being. From one swe to another, why does Meta require one-off corrections from a back channel based upon an individual employee’s generosity?

Shouldn’t our responsibility scale, not just our technical systems, with the level of trust users place in your system when they base their livelihoods on it?

I say this as a parent whose stepson spent 5 years building up a substantial following on Instagram only to have it ripped away from him like this poor girl. He went through all the proper channels, provided his identification to prove who he was, and sent all his frustration into the black hole that is Meta user support.

Certainly we can do better as an industry, right?

I don't think LXE works for Meta, but is just an awesome human, who knows people that do. But agree with your post and am sorry for your step-son.

Thanks you so much for getting this fixed. You honestly made my Xmas. If there is ever anything I can help you with please don't hesitate in contacting me.

Email sent, thank you!

Happy to hear the issue is resolved. I'd be glad to bring my friends to wish her on her birthday. No one deserves to go through that. Wishing you and yours happy holidays!

Thanks, happy holidays to you as well.

I know this isn't what you'd want to hear, but if she doesn't have an online site already it may be a good time to invest in putting the content on a website that you have more control over and trying to find channels to promote her without using Meta.

Thanks for the advice, she does have a personal business site, but all her music and modelling work comes through her Instagram network, I believe having a large number of followers is important.

https://www.modelmayhem.com/ Might also be an alternative.

I only used it to find camera folks in the past when I was in film/documentary work but I know it’s mainly a modeling site. Haven’t kept up with the industry since 2015 so not sure if still relevant.

This is very regional, and it's hit and miss with regards to talent - on both sides of the camera.

I used it a lot when I lived in Scotland, but after moving to Finland the site has nobody local at all which was a real disappointment.

It has to be said that as I was leaving the UK there was a sharp rise in the number of fake profiles, and people trying to take deposits in advance, which seemed like the start of a downward spiral, but I guess I never knew for sure how that turned out.

Just a thought, but have you considered legal action?

If no one on HN is able to help, a letter written by a lawyer to Facebook legal might escalate the problem appropriately.

Responding to myself because outside edit window.

I see why people keep mentioning/focusing on "legal action" -- what I should have emphasized is "send a letter", not "bring a case against Facebook".

Contacting legal is a different avenue that could be helpful for finding someone with power to do something about the problem.

Thanks for the advice; willing to try anything right now.

Absolutely no problem, really hoping for the best for you and your daughter.

I hope you can find the right lawyer with the right tone and touch to make a difference here -- it's both a business and personal issue.

It’s terrifying how easy it is today to destroy someone’s life with no escape from bullying. Back in my day, I had to deal with the beatings but I could always stay at home, and when I became an adult I could avoid it. Today nowhere is safe

Yeah this is quite concerning. I hear that younger people these days bully each other less, but I wonder if the bullying is just less visible.

Humans certainly don't change as fast as technology, so it makes sense but still incredibly sad to hear what you and your family are going through. And on top of all that Meta intentionally/unintentionally making it worse.

Thank you

Legal action based on what?

Meta not upholding their their terms for access to the platform, and not following their own remediation policies.

Those hundred odd pages probably have specific clauses in there for what constitutes impersonation, repercussions and remediations etc - amongst their internal policies on resolution.

Chances are they've ignored their own legal T&C's for internal policies or "accepted practices" - which will definitely get their legal arm to review a few things.

Note that I did not say legal action -- I said a letter. With the right wording, explanation of the case and concerns, and some finesse, FB counsel who might receive this letter may be motivated to solve it quickly and efficiently.

Actual legal action is a last resort, because if it goes bad everyone loses (especially the young creator, because it could take years).

Good lawyers should be good at that kind of thing.

> Just a thought, but have you considered legal action?

> Note that I did not say legal action -- I said a letter

Meta has a large legal department full of lawyers who are paid a lot more than whoever you can afford. They are used to dealing with threats and actual lawsuits every day from people, companies and governments all over the world. Your random letter isn't going to scare them into submission. You will simply get back a templatized response along the likes of "We reserve the right to ban anyone from our services. Here is a link to our ToS."

What's your definition of legal action? I generally understand it to mean a filing, legal proceeeding, etc.

A simple letter does not, in my mind, constitute legal action.

A letter could threaten legal action, but that's explicitly not what I'm suggesting should be done here -- you don't want to attack FB lawyers, you just want a side-channel to a reasonable set of people who are interested in avoiding litigation/bad press, and powerful enough to do something about your problem.

[EDIT] - responding to your edit.

> Meta has a large legal department full of lawyers who are paid a lot more than whoever you can afford. They are used to dealing with threats and actual lawsuits every day from people, companies and governments all over the world. Your random letter isn't going to scare them into submission. You will simply get back a templatized response along the likes of "We reserve the right to ban anyone from our services. Here is a link to our ToS."

They're already getting nowhere with dealing with the current level of automated response/remediation. I have explicitly noted that the point is not to scare the lawyers (everyone seems to be projecting this into my suggestion), but to possibly get the ear of reasonable people with power.

Regardless of what you think will happen, it is an avenue to try, that evidently the OP didn't think of yet.

[EDIT2] - I see now that I wrote "legal action" and it's been interpreted as such. What I meant was to "send a letter" that may be received by someone reasonable with power to fix what is likely a simple moderation mistake. I am not advocating trying to take Meta to court.

> Meta has a large legal department full of lawyers who are paid a lot more than whoever you can afford.

Yes, they have very competent lawyers. In fact, the lawyers are so competent they might actually realize "hey this isn't a case of impersonation we can have her account reinstated and avoid even the possibility of a legal hassle".

> Note that I did not say legal action -- I said a letter


Depending on who you ask, a letter is not necessarily legal action.



What is it with HN today, full of smarmy people seizing on semantics.

[EDIT] - I see why everyone is, I included the phrase "legal action", and meant to talk separately about sending a letter (not legal action, depending on who you ask). This is what I meant.

I do not mean to sue or open a case against Meta.

If it's on suspicion of slander or tortuous interference with a business relationship, perhaps unmask the reason / source of the ban during discovery?

IANAL so no idea of there's any chance of that working, I'm just brainstorming.

Doesn’t matter. The point is to get a human to pay attention.

The only human who will pay attention will be some random Facebook paralegal, who will promptly reply with some templatized "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone".

You don't know that's what will happen, or what will come of trying to find a lawyer who has experience with things like this, or pursuing the suggestion.

What a defeatist attitude. This isn't what I expect to find on HN.

We all know it's within FB's rights to refuse service to anyone and the convoluted ToS an policies we all agree to when using online services these days.

I was hoping to write up a TellHN about something similar once my situation was resolved, but the same thing happened to me at the end of November.

My Facebook account has MFA and a very strong, unique password. I began to receive emails about my "account recovery code", which I ignored. A day or so later I received an email that MFA was disabled, and then one that my password had been reset. I was able to immediately reset it again from a new device, log in, log out all other sessions and re-enable MFA. Then a few hours later the same thing happened, but by that time it was overnight and I wasn't able to catch it in time. I woke up to the emails outlining that process again along with one saying my account had been suspended.

I went through the recommend process of supplying my ID, which was rejected as "forged" and I was told my account would be terminated, decision is final, no ability to appeal, etc. Luckily (maybe?) my account created Facebook Apps for some state and federal government offices and personnel, and those went away at the same time. Now there's some high level people butting heads with the Meta Pro team on my behalf, and I'm watching the emails as they go back and forth.

It's about 3 weeks later and I still haven't gotten access back yet, but we've collected dozens of other cases of people that have had the same thing happen going back to mid-October.

It appears to be a scam where attackers are able to somehow gain access to Facebook accounts bypassing passwords and other authentication processes and then post about crypto and NFT sales on Facebook marketplace. If the account has a credit card attached, they will buy $100-500 worth of Facebook ads for the same thing.

We're all wondering what happens to the regular people who don't have the business connections to have the ability to reach out to someone that is able to bypass the regular process that is failing in a major way?

Please reach out to me at ** -- lxe got to it first.

If others were not able to help, please reach out to me.

Thank you, its now fixed

Thanks for the offer


Are you 12 years old? What motivates someone to write a comment like this? Alt tab back to Discord and find some belonging in one of the 70 servers you're probably in instead of this website please.

I'm literally 21, and I'm killing it in life. I'll tell you what motivated me to write this comment - I had an observation about his actions, and I told it to him like it is. I don't use Discord that much because I'm not an autistic weirdo like OP.

Doesn't seem as miserable as yours

He's probably a parent of one of those bullies.

Glad to see the accounts back! Have a great Christmas

If I had a kid, I would be so proud if he was a bully. Bullies are alpha males. I wouldn't want my kid to be some geek beta male programmer.

My life is incredible. I'm banging 10's. I go to a top tier university. I'm on track to make 250K+ at my first job out of college.

Stop "banging 10's" and go back to China you "productivity"-obsessed brainwashed Sundar Pichai dick-sucking big tech drone, we don't want OP's genes but we don't your ch1nk genes either

hahaha this was funny

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